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30 September 2019

Mike Dorey - Commando covers, part 1

To celebrate getting my sole copy of Commando (featuring a cover by Mike Dorey) signed on Saturday, see below, I thought I'd present a gallery of ALL the covers that Mike did for Commando.

Here's part 1, part 2 is tomorrow, thanks to friend of the blog Colin Noble for the issue numbers and thanks to (mainly) ebay for most of the cover images...

2741 (reprinted as 5118)



2763 (reprinted as 4205)



29 September 2019

Judge Dredd - LOTF, Geoff Senior covers

The other day I put up a list of artists & writers who contributed to the Judge Dredd - Lawman of the future title (here) and, inspired by that posting Simon Furman noted...
So here are the covers that Geoff is credited as drawing for Lawman of the future...

Issue 2 

Issue 16

Issue 17

Issue 18

Issue 20

Issue 23

28 September 2019

New Illustrators specials coming in 2020

Coming in 2020...2 new special edition of Illustrators magazine...

First up is 'The art of John M Burns' - for more details keep an eye on this page - price will probably be £25 

...and then there's also 'Pirates' - again the page to keep an eye on is here - so far the page says...
Will showcase some of the greatest pirate art ever published in comics, books, magazines, posters, etc.

Will also feature work by Howard Pyle, Norman Price and many more, plus the different illustrated versions of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.

More like a book than a magazine, illustrators is the art quarterly devoted to the finest illustration art ever published. It guides you through the stories behind the artists and their art, with features written by some of the leading authorities on this important art form.

As well as building into an indispensable reference library, illustrators gives readers an insight into the creative process, from the initial idea to the image potentially seen by millions.

Truly fabulous artwork abounds in every issue, much of the art taken from scans of the original work.

27 September 2019

Swapmeet 5 - Watford, tomorrow

Still wondering whether to go along to Swapmeet #5 in Watford tomorrow? Let me see if I can tempt you with these ten good reasons...

1). Details are as are free! Adults just £1!

2). Special guests will include...The Mighty One himself Steve Macmanus - he'll be taking orders for his new book so be sure to talk to him about that...also Commando / 2000AD / new Eagle stalwart writer 

3). Commando (and plenty more besides) writer Alan Hebden will be there, he'll be selling and signing some of his books (El Mestizo for instance)…also 

4). Mike '2000AD / new Eagle / Tornado / loads of other comics' Dorey will be selling his art there 

5). Comics writer James Nicholas (see interview here) will be there - he wrote for most of IPC's adventure comics in the '80s and '90s, including Johnny Red and Charley's War.

6). Here's some of the fine merchandise / tat you could be taking home with you...  

7). There'll be a (small) display of original comic art by comics legends like Frank Hampson, Don Harley, Keith Watson plus more recent artists like John Ridgway, David Pugh & John Stokes.

8). 14 tables from a dozen sellers - these aren't sellers that you see at the London comic mart, these are fans selling directly to you, this is tat / highly collectable merchandise that is fresh to the market!

9). No Funko Pop's on sale.

10). It's all vintage British comics all the way - no American comics

See you there? I'll be the guy in the Dan Dare t-shirt so why not come and say hi.

26 September 2019

Eagle & Barnardo Helpers' League

Eagle annual 4 (1955) contained a story written by Chad 'founder of the Samaritans' Varah and Norman 'father of Pat' Williams. 

The story was entitled 'The street-arabs' friend' and told the story of Dr Barnardo and how he came to set up the instituition that we would come to know as Barnardo's. 

So this follows in the 'tradition' of Eagle publishing true-life (back page) stories and it used two well established Eagle figures to present this story.

Until now I just thought that was the end of this strip, the one-off appearance in the annual, but it turns out I was wrong... 

In fact the whole strip was reprinted by Barnardo's in the form of a piece of promotional literature to promote the "Barnardo Helpers' League"

This must count as one of the most obscure pieces of Eagle spin-off publications out there, good luck hunting a copy down!

You can't see it on the scan below very well but there is a note which says "Printed by the Apprentices at the Press of Dr. Barnardo's, Goldings, Hertford, Leaflet No. 3/67" - so I'm guessing this is form 1967?? 

25 September 2019

Bryan & Mary Talbot @ Gosh comics

Gosh comics have announced (here) a signing with Mary & Bryan Talbot to celebrate the launch of their new graphic novel

Let's see what their website has to say...
The award-winning team of Mary & Bryan Talbot return with a stunning new graphic novel, Rain, and we’re thrilled to have them here signing copies on Saturday October 26th, 1-2pm!
Over the past 8 years or so UK comics legend Bryan Talbot and historian (and wife) Mary have created some truly landmark British graphic novels (in the truest sense of the term) with a body of work including Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes, Sally Heathcote: Suffragette (with Kate Charlesworth), and The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia. Now they look to continue that trend with Rain, a book which looks at big issues on an intimate scale.
From acclaimed writer/historian Mary M Talbot and graphic-novel pioneer Bryan Talbot comes Rain, a chronicle of the growing relationship of two young women, one an environmental activist, set against the backdrop of the disastrous 2015 floods in northern England.
The wild Brontë moorlands are being criminally mismanaged as crops are being poisoned, and birds and animals are being slaughtered. While the characters are fictional, the tragedy is shockingly real.
Bryan and Mary will be here signing on Saturday October 26th, from 1-2pm. If you can’t make it but would like one of their books signed, you can pre-order a copy on our webstore now for collection or mail order.

24 September 2019

Black Crown party & Philip Bond @ Orbital comics

Orbital comics have announced some a great sounding night in-store on Saturday 26th October (plus the opening of a new exhibition) - let's see what they have to say...
...Orbital Comics proudly invites you to an enormous event with none other than curation operation Black Crown!

Founded in 2017 by Shelly Bond, Black Crown’s mission has been to harbour an environment wherein creators and creations commingle, corrupt and correlate to new comic book series. This alternative comics manifesto has lead to runaway successes, like Punks Not Dead, Kid Lobotomy, Assassinistas, Lodger, Femme Magnifique and of course Black Crown Quarterly.

The show kicks off at 6pm on Saturday 26th October with a mega signing, featuring a wealth of creators from the Black Crown talent pool, including….

…. then you’re invited to stick around for a free after-hours party running late into the evening. DJs, drinks and all manner of lush Black Crown swag to be had!

And! And! And! The party also doubles as launch night for a very special Philip Bond Retrospective Exhibition which will be adorning the walls of the Orbital Gallery. The exhibition runs until 27 November.

Needless to say, we’re absolutely thrilled to be hosting this total bonanza of Black Crown goodness. Saturday 26th of October, Orbital’s gonna be the place to be

23 September 2019

Judge Dredd - LOTF, contributor guide

Inspired by a recent question from David McDonald (about the picture at the bottom of this post) I thought I'd share the centre pages from the Judge Dredd (Lawman of the future) action special. 

Why? Well they provide a (still relatively rare) guide to precisely who did what in the whole run of the Lawman of the future ('90s Stallone movie spin-off Dredd comic). A useful list and it's got some familar name on it (and just as interestingly it's got some unknown names on it). Anyway, a useful reference sheet. The strips were credited in LOTF but it's still handy so have them all in one place like this. 

22 September 2019

James Nicholas interviewed

Ahead of his first ever appearance (on Saturday!) at a comics event (Swapmeet #5, 79th Bushey & Oxhey scout hut, Park avenue, Bushey, Watford, WD23 2BA) I caught up with one of the guests of honour, James Nicholas... 

James has written the adventures of some of Britain's most famous comics characters, however his work on these titles seems largely forgotten so this is a great opportunity to shine the spotlight on him...

So James, perhaps we should begin at the beginning with you and your life... 
I was born at an early age in St.Albans, deepest Hertfordshire on September 26, 1964. I grew up in St.Albans and indeed I remained living in the City until 2018. I then moved to leafy Bedfordshire and now reside in Lower Stondon, Henlow.

My father is Barrie Tomlinson (a name which probably rings a few bells with comic fans!) and my late mother, Hilary, was a former nurse. I have a sister, Jennifer, who is an accountant in Essex.

My father Barrie had already been working in comics for a few years by the time I was born. Initially after leaving school he was a Police cadet, before doing his National Service in the Army Pay Corps in West Germany. It was the height of The Cold War and sometimes he did guard duty. Although without bullets in his gun! While in the army dad first became interested in journalism. He set up the 'Anti-Trombone League' and produced a regular magazine which featured contributions from celebrities. After leaving the army, dad moved into journalism full time when he joined IPC Magazines. He later became Editor of several comic titles eventually finishing up as Group Editor. 

Eventually you would become a comics writer but at school did you feel that you ever showed any aptitude around writing stories / English as a subject – or perhaps you career choice ended up being a surprise to you as well?
I certainly showed no aptitude for MATHS! While struggling with sums, Geography and History were more to my liking, but English was indeed my best subject. In my last few years at school I really got into writing stories and achieved some top marks (although I was sometimes told I overdid the blood and gore!) So I guess it should come as no great surprise to anyone that I later became a writer...

How aware were you of comics when you were growing up? Did you end up with piles of freebies from your dad’s work?
I certainly grew up in a 'comic' household! Dad was always bringing home LOTS of comics as well as free gifts such as model kits and toys for 'testing!' Sometimes he would take me to visit his offices in London. IPC/Fleetway were based in a gigantic, super imposing skyscraper (or so it seemed to me...I was fairly small at the time!) called King's Reach Tower. In reality (comic's reality that is!) the building was actually a disguised alien spaceship! I always looked forward to dropping in on the various Editors to pick up comic back issues...and numerous other industry goodies! The Editors' offices were secretive, almost mystical places. They were like Alladin's Caves to me, wall-to-wall with artwork, comics, specials and annuals. The Editors seemed to be like royalty, presiding over their kingdoms which only a lucky few ordinary people (like me!) ever got to enter. Great memories! I would also be invited along to special events, such as the launch of the new Eagle. I handed out copies of the first issue...disguised as none other than Doomlord! Impersonating a Servitor of the unnatural world of Nox probably wasn't a wise move. I was lucky the real Doomlord didn't turn up and disintegrate me with his energiser ring as punishment!

What comics did you read growing up?
I never had to buy a comic when I was growing up, that's for sure! I regularly read Tiger, Roy of the Rovers, Eagle, Battle, 2000AD, Action, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles and many others
...all IPC/Fleetway titles of course! Battle was probably my favourite, with legendary stories such as Charley's War, Johnny Red and Darkie's Mob. The fantastically realistic artwork of Joe Colquhoun was especially memorable!

What did you do when you left school?
After leaving school, I did some temporary work for a few months while I decided what I wanted to do full time. It was mostly fairly dull work on factory production lines and in loading bays. To make things less boring I'd imagine my co-workers were really shape changing alien lifeforms. After a while dad suggested I try out writing for the comics and I jumped at the chance. I taught myself typing and started banging out sample scripts on an old manual typewriter. It was a good few years before I switched to doing scripts on a computer! After a few not so great early efforts I started to got the hang of things. My work started to be accepted for publication. In due course it was amazing to see my efforts in print for the first time. A writing career was born!

Can you recall which was the first comic you ever wrote for?
Almost certainly the (new) Eagle! I'm pretty sure I wrote several complete stories for The Amstor Computer as my first proper writing job. I think the very first one was called "Second time lucky", about an airline captain who was struggling to return to his flying job after a crash. He was certainly no Sully! As I've always been an aviation geek, it was ideal subject matter for this young writer. Soon after that I moved on to soccer stories, in Roy of the Rovers if I recall rightly, which I found not so easy. After all I'm a long suffering Arsenal supporter so what do I know about football! 

You then "signed for" new Eagle in 1990 [Ghostworld] and worked on it continuously until it closed [in 1994] mainly on the Computer Warrior strip - what do you recall about the Computer Warrior strip?  
Yes, I did a long stint on Computer Warrior which I really enjoyed! I believe some of the early stories were based on real computer games. I can't say I was the biggest gamer back then so it was a bit of an eye opener. Of course those old games were a lot more basic compared to today's! Later Computer Warrior adventures came totally from my imagination, with no resemblance at all to anything you could buy in the shops. But it did give me a lot of scope for different kinds of action on land, sea or in the air. I don't know whether the young readers realised these latter Computer Warrior tales were totally fictionalised. I just hope no-one went out with their pocket money to try and buy non-existent computer games!

You worked on quite a few issues of the 'Hero Turtles' comic - how was it different working on a licensed title compared to a 'normal' strip - are there lots more restrictions on what you can do? 
Working on a licenced title was always tough! Almost without exception the licence holders were EXTREMELY fussy. We had a 'bible' that contained info about the characters and the basic storyline we had to closely follow. Bringing in our own elements was pretty much frowned on! We had to submit our scripts at an early stage so they could be very rigorously checked before going to the artist. Anything the powers that be didn't agree with, like or understand had to be changed pronto. These changes often seemed minor, unimportant or even silly, but what did us mere writers know! Sometimes, however, this system broke down and script approval took far too long. In order to meet print deadlines artists had to complete their artwork without script approval. Cue lots of shock and horror! This was especially the case when artists worked many of them did of course! Everything had to be sent by post in those early days, a slow and frustrating process. Changing scripts was fairly easy. But once artwork was completed any demanded changes were far too expensive and time consuming to contemplate. Or that's what we always told those finicky licence holders anyway!

You worked on one issue of Scream [issue 7's The Punch and Judy horror show] - a story that I loved, that was in 1984, what else were you working on (before you really got to new Eagle in 1990)?

I worked a lot on Battle around that time. For example, I wound up the long running and very popular Johnny Red story and also wrote a number of Charley's War completes for annuals and specials. I penned many of the licenced Action Force stories, including one of my personal favourites, Operation Deep Cover. There was little I didn't know about Baron Ironblood and his Red Shadows. Great villains! After Action Force ended, I wrote extensively for our own in-house replacement, Storm Force. I helped to come up with the concept for this story, so John Storm, The Mole, Stiletto, Griffin and the other Storm Force characters are close to my heart. Was Storm Force superior to Action Force? Well, I'd have to say yes...but I'm probably more than a little biased!
There were other licenced titles around at that time which I worked on: Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad, Toxic Crusaders, Sky Dancers and MASK. The latter was great fun with lots of scope for humour, especially from a couple of clumsy bad guys with the unlikely names of Bebop and Rocksteady! 

Were there any strips or characters that you ever wanted to write but never got the chance to?
As for other strips or characters I wanted to write for, not that many! Famous names like Dan Dare, Roy of the Rovers, The Mekon, Charley's War, Johnny Red and of course Kitten Magee I all wrote for in one form or other. But maybe it would have been nice to work on Judge Dredd...perhaps Darkie's Mob or Strontium Dog...Hook Jaw and Flesh...Johnny Cougar and Skid Solo...and then there was Major Eazy...not to mention Rat Pack...I could go on! Great characters and great memories!

21 September 2019

Rok the God - issue 1 now available

I've been a fan of Rok of the Reds ever since it came out, so I was delighted to see this news from his Rokness when it appeared on my facebook feed yesterday...  

A FREE digital version of CHAPTER 1 will be accessible to all on Rok's forthcoming Kickstarter (October 2nd - mark the date!) but for those who JUST CAN’T WAIT we’ve printed a special PREVIEW ISSUE - Chapter 1, 20 strip pages, full colour. Available NOW - just message Dan Cornwell and he’ll send it off, £4 plus p&p. 
And here’s better news - we’ll even include a voucher for £4 off the eventual graphic novel. This won’t be valid for any Kickstarter reward, so don’t forget to check out the ROK THE GOD KICKSTARTER. Some AMAZING goodies available including:

* BRIAN BOLLAND variant cover!
* Amazing Neil Blackbird Sims ROK statuette - one of maximum 13 only!
* Original Dan Cornwell SKETCHES and much more!
AND the first five subscribers to the Rok Kickstarter will earn a chance to win an ORIGINAL ALAN GRANT BATMAN SCRIPT. Five names in the hat, one lucky winner!

This is the Dan Cornwell you're looking for on facebook...


20 September 2019

Transformers - Aspects of evil

Ages ago (herehere and here) I looked at 3 (of the 5) small Transformers reprint volumes that Titan books published in 2005. I've now acquired the 4th volume so I present it here to bring my researches up to date....

Contents are from the following issues of Transformers 223-227, 251-254, 235-236, 240 & 245-7 and are as follows:

Aspects of evil! script by Simon Furman, art by Jeff Anderson, Art Wetherll, Simon Coleby, Andrew Wildman, Lee Sullivan, Cam Smith
The Void! script by Simon Furman, art by Staz
Edge of impact script by Simon Furman, art by Staz
Shadow of evil script by Simon Furman, art by Cam S[mith]
White fire script by Simon Furman, art by Cam Smith
Deathbringer script by Simon Furman, art by Geoff Senior, Staz
Out to lunch script by Simon Furman, art by Andy Wildman
Underworld! script by Simon Furman, art by Jeff Anderson
Demons! script by Simon Furman, art by Jeff Anderson
Dawn of darkness script by Simon Furman, art by Geoff Senior

19 September 2019

UPDATED (again): Beano & Dandy calendars

Following on from a previous post (here) about Oor Wullie calendars I realised that there must be other DC Thomson calendars out there so I set off to google Beano calendars - so here's my guide to collecting them...

Don't forget you can review Commando calendars here and Judge Dredd calendars here

New material is highlighted in red but the summary of where I'm up to now is that I have images for calendars for 1986-2019 apart from 1996, 2001 and a 'skinny' 2005 calendar (assuming it exists). Of course there could be more out there so if I missed anything just let me know.

Interestingly the 1992 edition has a reference that says "Number 7" in the top right cover - indicating that this is the 7th edition of the calendar...

...hmmm, and the 1993 calendar says "Number 8"...

...hmmm, and the 1994 calendar says "Number 9"...

...thingk the 1995 one says 'number 10' in the top right corner

no sign of 1996 (yet!)

Here's the 1997 calendar - you'll see from the back cover picture that this is (helpfully) number as number 12 so there must have been a calendar for 1996 (to be number 11)

The 1998 calendar

The 1999 calendar (left) and the envelope it came in (right)

The 2000 calendar (right) and the envelope it came in (left)

Here's the 2002 calendar

2003 calendar

Then 2004...

No 2005 calendar (I think!) so here's the 2006 edition... 

Hmmm, so for 2004 and 2006 it seems there were 2 calendars for Beano fans...

Here's a great collection of calendars...
The top row shows (in order) 2015, 2016, 2012 and 2014.
The bottom row shows (in order) 2013, 2017, 2011 and 2010.
So that's 2010-2017 in total

The 2015 calendar...

The 2017 calendar...

...And then the 2018 calendar...

...and here we are for 2019...